Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Digging up the Ancestors

A lady who lives across the street kindly offered to spend a few hours in the library researching my family tree, something I have always wanted to do but found I was absolutely no good at. Having tried and failed to find my grandparents on the 1901 census, I had given up.

My maternal grandmother was called Lucy Savage. She said she was related to old pop singer Terry Dene through his wife, Edna Savage, who was also a singer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edna_Savage). Oddly enough, I spent several years vainly pursuing a career as a singer-songwriter and warbling away in obscure clubs and restaurants, so perhaps I inherited a smidge of the musical gene.

At first, my neighbour opted for the wrong Lucy Savage, but had an instinct that the details weren't correct, so now she has found the right one and, to my great joy, has unearthed an ancestor bearing the truly amazing, Dickensian name of Asquith Beedle! He was a glass-blower in Castleford, Yorkshire, and married a lady called Rose Pollett.

What I want to find out about now is my grandfather's family. I'd like to trace the Dickinson line back to see if my mum's tale of them having lived in Standish Hall, Wigan, Lancashire is true. She told us that my grandfather used to visit the family vaults in Standish every so often. However, the hall doesn't exist any more, having burned down in the 1920s and the land it stood on is now a pig farm. No reflection on my ancestors, I hope!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Coming back to life... slowly.

I postponed my birthday meal (b-day is tomorrow, folks!) until a week today, as so many of us are ill. This latest bug seems to be taking its toll. I don't mean the sickness one, I mean the hacking cough, streaming cold, earache and deafness one, which I have had on and off for the last six weeks. I spoke to a fellow sufferer today who told me that a friend of his brother's took a whole month off work with it and just stayed in bed! An extreme case of man-flu if ever I heard one.

My head is still a bit swimmy, my sinuses see-saw between the runs and the bungs, my ear hurts and I feel slightly in another world. My appetite has gone and I feel extremely tired. I went down to the shops today, only a ten minute walk, and on the return journey I felt as if I were climbing Mt Everest. My legs ached, I was panting for breath and I had no energy at all.

So, knowing that I can't feel much worse, I am about to welcome another fellow sufferer and her partner into the house (she went to the doctor and got antibiotics but they haven't helped at all because it's a virus) and open a bottle of wine. It's kill or cure time!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Midnight lurgy

When I started this blog, I intended to write about all my health problems and my attempts to fix them by trying various remedies and seeing what worked and what didn't. To the relief of most of you, probably, I have ended up hardly mentioning health matters at all! But this post is, I'm afraid, all about being struck down with a tummy bug, so avert your eyes if you are feeling at all delicate.

Having had four weeks with a ghastly cough, I was delighted when it finally went. But my delight was short-lived when Mr Grumpy caught a cold and gave it to me a fortnight ago. On Monday, I was just starting to snuffle a bit less and was beginning to make arrangements again. In fact, I had things booked in for every day this week and was wondering when I was going to be able to fit in my latest editing job.

When I flopped into bed around 11.30 on Monday night, I felt fine. At just after 1 am, I awoke and didn't know what was going on at all. The whole room was not spinning, but whirling round, as if I was on some ghastly fairground ride, and I was so boiling hot that I thought my body was going to explode and I was spontaneously combusting.

I was very scared. I don't think I have ever felt quite so peculiar and unwell. I even wondered if I was dying. Wondering if I needed the loo, I lurched there, clutching furniture as things were still whirling. Then I started to feel nauseous. The only handy receptacle was my plastic waste paper basket, so I emptied out all the tissues, receipts and packaging material from my latest Amazon splurge, and rang Mr G on his mobile. We both keep our phones on all night. We've slept in separate rooms for several years now because of my insomnia and his snoring, and since his strokes, we both decided we should stay in phone contact in case he had another one in the middle of the night. But this time it was I who was in need and he who was too deeply asleep to hear the ringtone. (Turned out he'd switched it to Silent, the b******!)

Clutching my waste bin, I staggered up the stairs, hauling my way up the banisters, world still whirling, and found him asleep with Flad. He took a lot of waking. In fact, I wondered if he was dead! But finally the bedclothes heaved, his head emerged from beneath the duvet, the temperature having gone down to only 7C indoors, and he kindly got up and sat with me for two hours in the living room, listening to my groans, both of us swathed in blankets. By now, I was well and truly suffering from what can only be described as a 'both ends job', if you know what I mean!

I wondered if I had caught the Norovirus, but he felt my head and said it wasn't that as I didn't have a temperature. I felt as if I had been poisoned. I had terrible stomach pain, but not the cramps you get when you have a gastric bug. He and I had both eaten his home-cooked shepherds pie and he was okay, so it couldn't have been that. The only thing I had consumed that was any different to him was a tiny plastic container of something called Tipples. A friend had given me several at Christmas, I'd discovered one at the back of the fridge last night and had drunk it and had merrily remarked that it tasted a bit like sick. Many a true word... Mr G pointed out that, if it contained cream, it could have gone rancid and upset my stomach. He had made porridge a few weeks ago, not realising the milk had gone off, and he had been very ill, too.

By 3 am, we had both decided I wasn't about to snuff it, despite my getting heart palpitations. So he went back to bed and I was left to cope alone with the hell of frequent attacks of vomiting and diarrhoea. I found two Immodium Melts and took those and after one more attack, that particular end of my body stopped misbehaving. In fact, it has probably stopped functioning forever, knowing how strong Immodium is! I was still sick a couple more times, then was finally able to fall into a coma-like sleep, propped upright on several pillows, only to awake with a completely stiff neck and horrible headache, which I've still got.

As soon as the chemist's opened, Mr G went out and bought me some Dioralyte rehydration sachets, the unflavoured sort, thank goodness, as I couldn't have stomached blackcurrant, and I sipped my way through a couple of sachets of that. By the evening, I felt able to nibble a plain digestive biscuit. Today, I feel very feeble, my cough is back and I can hardly sit down as the whole of my undercarriage feels as if it has been scalded, then scrubbed with a Brillo pad. Every time I have a pee, I have to lean far forward to ensure it doesn't touch the painful areas. It's misery, but I hope I shall be okay by the weekend as it's my birthday on Sunday and friends are taking me out for an Italian meal on Saturday night - though one of them has now been felled by bronchitis. Oh, miserable winter days! It's been too cold, too long. I've almost worn out my thermals! Roll on, Spring.

I am now trying to summon up the energy to change my bedding, something I think all of us want to do when we've been ill, to get rid of the sweaty, germ-ridden sheets and swap them for some fresh, clean new ones. One odd thing has resulted from my spell of illness, in that a spoonful of sugar in my tea tasted so awful that I have cut down to a quarter of a teaspoonful. Maybe the diet starts today!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Although it's now almost eight years since I found my daughter, having been separated from her for a bleak 36 years,  getting a Mother's Day card from her is still a terrific thrill. This year, she has proved that she truly is her birth mother's daughter by sending the kind of card I would have sent my own mum, all three of us sharing the same smutty sense of humour! It bears a water colour picture of a colourful rooster and inside she has written, 'I thought you'd appreciate a big...' (fill in the word yourself!).

Mr Grumpy loves the website thedogsdoodahs,com, which has a great range of cards for all occasions, many them quite ribald, plus templates that enable you to design your own. He send me one from Flad to me and inside it reads, 'Fank u for cuddling me.' Aaaah!

I hope all the mums reading this got their well-deserved quota of cards, flowers and warm, loving wishes today.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Find an Agent!

I really like this idea, so I have decided to reproduce the whole article on my blog. Although I already have an agent for children's fiction, I don't have one for adult books, and I consider £12 is peanuts, considering the legwork it saves! What do other writers think?

The Writers' Workshop Launches Agent Hunter – A Simple Digital Way To Search For Literary Agents

Posted at 4:42PM Monday 04 Mar 2013
Britain's largest consultancy for new writers, the Writers' Workshop, today launches Agent Hunter: a website offering a simple digital way to locate literary agents and publishers. It is the only fully comprehensive, fully searchable list of agents, agencies and publishers in the UK.
Harry Bingham, a crime fiction author and head of the Writers' Workshop, says, "Printed directories have traditionally offered little more than a list of literary agencies with basic contact info. Agent Hunter brings literary agent search into the twenty-first century."

Agent Hunter brings together all the available public information on every literary agent. Where possible, the site includes biographies, photographs, Twitter accounts, likes and dislikes information, links to interviews and articles appearing online – and much more.
The site also makes it easy to search for literary agents in a logical way. For example, a writer can look for "literary agents who like historical fiction and are seeking to build their client lists". Or if a user particularly enjoys a certain author, they can use the "Who represents who?" function to find the relevant agent.

Laura Wilkins, Manager of the Writers' Workshop, comments, "We haven't just scoured every publicly available source for information on literary agents, agencies and publishers, we've approached every agent too – and we've been thrilled at how positive the response has been."
An annual subscription to Agent Hunter costs £12. Journalists and bloggers interested in reviewing the site can obtain one of 50 free subscriptions by contacting the Writers' Workshop.
Harry Bingham is the author of six novels and has also written two books for the Writers' & Artists' brand. (The group's most notable publication is the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook, a traditional resource for writers in search of agents.) The Writers Workshop is the UK's largest editorial consultancy for first time writers and also runs the Festival of Writing in York: the country's largest writers' conference.

Harry Bingham and Laura Wilkins can be contacted on 0845 459 9560 or info@writersworkshop.co.uk.